Organic ANT Control?

haname(z9 AZ NE Phoenix)May 19, 2011

I have an ant nest in my back yard and want to get rid of it without poison. I've seen lists of 'remedies' but what I'm really interested in is something that someone has used that actually gets rid of them. :)

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the lady at Natural Gardener told me that the granular form of molasses works well on fire ants in my area. I've also tried beneficial nematodes. Both seemed to work for me. Don't know if they just moved, or if it actually killed them. Waiting for a rain here in AUS to see if new mounds pop up close by.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 9:39PM
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I generally let ants live, as long as they're not in an inconvenient place.

However, last year there was a big ant hill right beside where I water my flower bed.

I poured a kettle full of boiling water on them, waited a few hours, dug a shallow hole, poured another kettle of boiling water into the hole, waited, dug deeper, more boiling water, dug deeper, and then two more boiling water for good measure.

I ended up with a hole about 8 inches deep, but the ants were gone =:)

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 11:40PM
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haname(z9 AZ NE Phoenix)

They're conspiring with the aphids against the ladybugs and lacewings. There's a feed store near me so I'll get some granulated molasses and water that in. I do live in the desert though. Do nematodes work here?

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 12:03AM
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With the exception of the Imorted Fire Ant, ants are a part of Ma Natures recycling machine and need not be eliminated for no reason other than they are present. We have been taught all our lives to believe ants are pests and must be eliminated and a large industry has been developed to provide poisons to try and do that and we have not been successful. If what you have are the Imported Fire Ant the link below is a good resource for control, otherwise they really do not need to be.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fire Ant Control

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 6:26AM
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haname(z9 AZ NE Phoenix)

Well since these are invasive pharaoh ants and not natives, I'm not going to lose any sleep about eliminating them from my yard using organic control(if possible). :)

Ants are really fascinating creatures and an important part of the ecosystem. But in my yard and in this area, their presence promotes a proliferation of pests, limiting the power of the beneficials. There's hardly any point in trying to attract beneficials if the ants keep them from doing their task. Too bad the lizards don't eat them. That would be great!

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 1:42PM
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As previously stated, boiling water works and if you do it early the queen is usually at the top.

I've used urine, too, but that may just move them.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2011 at 8:13AM
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haname(z9 AZ NE Phoenix)

With the pharaoh ant, boiling water might trigger a colony split and then I'd have several nests to deal with. The pharaoh ant colony has multiple queens.

The feed store had no granular molasses, but I do have some regular molasses I could dilute and spray around. I'm not sure how well this will work in the dry soil (Phoenix AZ). Meanwhile, I've decided to bait them with borax. I have some mixed with raw meat, and some mixed with powdered sugar. Yesterday they were really going for it but today not so much.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2011 at 6:37PM
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greenleaf_organic(8, TX)

This is not organic, but aspartame works great for ants that have a sweet tooth (sweet mandible?)

    Bookmark   May 21, 2011 at 9:47PM
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haname(z9 AZ NE Phoenix)

Hi Greenleaf, how do you apply the aspartame? Do you mix it with something or just sprinkle it around?

    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 12:18AM
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greenleaf_organic(8, TX)

Haname, I have only used aspartame indoors on sugar ants and I just sprinkled a little pile and the next day they were completely gone. (It happened to be in a hotel room and I just got an Equal packet from the lobby.)

I am not familiar with pharoah ants, but with fire ants the beneficial nematodes work great. You do have to water them in though. For fire ants, the molasses moves them but does not seem to eradicate them.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 7:21AM
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haname(z9 AZ NE Phoenix)

I tried baiting them with borax and sugar water, also borax mixed with raw meat. They ate the bait but it didn't get rid of them. For now, I'm letting them be, because the aphids are mostly gone at this point (here in Phoenix aphids are mostly gone once it heats up). I'm going to apply nematodes when the summer rains come.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 6:24PM
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I use boric acid but if the ants are going after protein then I use peanut butter for bait. You could also try canned cat food or other mushy protein source. It doesn't take much boric acid.
I put it on a plate or put dabs around if it's outside but where pets won't eat it. It's not toxic to pets, btw. It's been used for eye washes, ear rinses. I'm not sure if it's considered organic but I'm pretty comfortable with it and it gets rid of nasty desert fire ants in one to two days. Wipes out the entire colony! And, I don't worry about my pet's health and safety.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 6:42PM
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I have heard that ants will not nest near mint plants. That grits in powder form will kill fire ants. There are 5 kinds of fire ant, 4 in the South & one in the North.
I have used 2 onions, 4garlic cloves & 1 hot pepper chopped up & mixed with one gallon of water. You then stain the mix a cup at a time. Add one cup of mix to a gallon of water in a sprayer & spray around your garden.
It works well.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 9:36PM
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Supposedly feeding grits, or rice, dry to ants will cause that material to swell in their stomachs when the ingest some water and boom, they explode. That is a myth that just will not die.
First i've heard of a Fire Ant in the north, where does that information come from, jolj?
The onion, garlic, pepper recipe is one that has been around for as long as I can remember (1960's) and has been used as an insect repellent with some success. However, that spray will also repel beneficial insects, so due care in use must be used.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2011 at 6:31AM
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Baking soda and sugar. Ants can't fart - they explode. I've covered hills with this stuff and put it around my home.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2011 at 6:55PM
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My 9 year old told me to use ground cinnamon to get rid of the ants trying to come in our front door. I sprinkled it along the entryway and they stopped. He says he learned it at school.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 12:27AM
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We've got multiple hills around the house. Anything we can use to move them farther away?

I thought molasses would just attract them, being derived from sugar cane. Cinnamon is too expensive for the amount of area we have to cover.

Use the onion-garlic recipe on the hills? Or around the foundation of the house (and then keep pushing them back?)?

    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 11:20PM
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If you have ants in the house they do need to be rerouted back outside, but ants belong outside and, with the exception of the Imported Fire Ant, nothing needs to be done to control them in that environment.
Pouring boiling water on the nest actually does little sincve the soil will dissiapte the heat from that water long before it reaches the ants nest underground. Feeding ants anything that is supposed to create internal gas and cause them to explode is a myth and will not happen.
In the house ants do not like, and will not cross, barriers of either lemon juice or pepperment oil, the real stuff not the artificial products, and that can be used to move them back outside. Determine why they are coming in and fix that, determine where they are coming in and close that after redirecting them back outside. Once the ants have been moved back outside then put a barrier around the entry point to keep them from returning. Sometimes a bait station with Black Strap Molasses can be used to distract them.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 7:01AM
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The people at Texas A & M have done considerable research on control of the Imported Fire Ant and they are the best source of information, most all the rest of hte information sources I have seen copy them. The heat in water will be dissapated and not do any harm by the time it reaches the ants nest underground, so unless you wish to expose your self to potential burns, for no real benefit, pouring boiling water on an ant hill is a useless exercise.
The Baking Soda and sugar thing is a myth, too.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 6:22AM
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This is a quote from the Texas A&M website referenced above:
"Spinosad (0.5% liquid) - considered all natural or "organic." Has a fire ant mound drench statement on label. Available from Green Light or FertiLome. Green Light product is certified organic by OMRI meaning it is approved for use in organic gardens. Spinosad is a biopesticide produced through commercial culture of a soil-born microbe that produces metabolites toxic to certain insects. These metabolites are harvested and formulated as an insecticide, so the final product contains no living microbes."
I have used both brands with great success. Green Light was better but I don't see it for sale any more. By the way, I have tried many other organic remedies and none of them worked great. It does take a little practice to use these but if you apply them when it is above 65F and in the morning with clouds is best. Evening works too but sometimes it needs to be applied more than once. My experience is if it worked they are gone in less than 4 days.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 12:49PM
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I just came across this online while I was looking for Sluggo, an organic slug bait that happens to be made by Monterey: Monterey LG6135 Garden Insect Spray. It contains Spinosad. I haven't used it so I can't speak for its effectiveness, nor do I know what else it contains. But I did check out Spinosad on Wikipedia and it appears that some precautions must be taken. While it has little to no toxicity for humans, animals, and most beneficial insects, it IS toxic to bees and some beneficial wasps, so I suggest that it only be sprayed in late evening when they are back in the hive. I don't know whether bumblebees are affected, and since those will sit on a plant all night, I would shake them off and shoo them before I sprayed, just in case.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 6:21PM
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goldenecho(Z8 (Waco TX))

Boiling water does work. It just takes several doses, with digging in between. I know because I have former mounds that I can now dance around on and there are no ants in them. Plus you can see all the little white hatchlings that come to the top that you've killed. Some ants will survive, and I've caught them moving their possibly it just kills some and the rest move. Still, I've been able to keep the ants in my back and front yard down to a reasonable amount that way. But it does leave bare spots in your yard.

My ants are RIGHT in the garden this time...right in my raised bed between my pepper plants and onions (so I'm sorta doubting the pepper/onion thing will do much to send them away). I'll see if I can find the Spinosad stuff.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 3:33PM
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albert_135(Sunset 2 or 3)

I was watching some graduate student's video on coffee and she said that caffeine had some insecticidal properties. Were someone interesting in an experiment they might try one of those high energy drinks in the little bottles added to sugar to see if it works to kill ants.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 5:41PM
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Colas, with a pH of 2.0, lower than Sulfuric Acid (3.7), should have some adverse affect on ants. However, this being an organic gardeneing forum should indicate that rather then be determined to rid the world od ants we need to understand they are part of Ma Natures recycing maching and not the evil things that must be eradicated.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 5:34AM
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I had a black, up her we usually simply call them wood,black and little red ants, ant colony in the boulevard hill for years, mainly ignored it.

About four years ago it started getting a lot bigger and became an eye=sore as the good grass died and only eye-sore weeds grew over it.

The organic part of my elimination was I dug it out and put the dirt in the pick-up garbage bin.
I refilled most of the hole with used cat litter.
Had some real green and quickly growing grass grow around the patched area.

Two years later I could see the ants were back, only around the old nest not in it, so this time I put down what ever ant poison comes in the orange containers.
They seem to be gone now.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 4:01PM
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Posted by kimmsr 4a/5b-MI Thu, Apr 12, 12 at 5:34 Colas, with a pH of 2.0, lower than Sulfuric Acid (3.7)

CRC handbook says the pH of Sulfuric Acid is 0.03 for 0.1N and 2.0 for Normal. Where did you get 3.7?

BTW, it says soft drinks 2-4. Could you source have gotten the pHs inverted. One early Rodale book got cation and anion mixed up throughout the entire book.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 3:59PM
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lurkandkibitz, I think you got your numbers switch, Sulfuric acid 1 N should have a lower pH than 0.1N, right?

    Bookmark   June 20, 2013 at 12:20PM
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The linked chart may be of some help. It lists the pH of SulfuricAcid as 2.1.

Here is a link that might be useful: pH of various materials

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 6:38AM
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Following Kimmsr reference- .01N pH= 2.1,
0.1N pH= 1.2,
1N pH=0.3
Like I said, the higher the N, the lower the pH

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 9:25PM
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The easy solution to ants is dish soap (Dawn, lemon Joy, etc,) Mix a table spoon to a gallon of water and pour it slowly over the ant hill, and it will kill them. I figured this out after reading an article on how to control mosquitoes. It said take a shallow dish, put some water in it, and add a few drips of lemon Joy. They said it would attract mosquitoes and kill them. Well it did along with bees and wasps. I also used that in a ant moat on top of a humming bird feeder and it worked there.

From there I wondered if it would work on ant hills, and it does.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 8:33AM
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That might work but it would not be a particularly good organic solution.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 6:35AM
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